'THE GOOD STRAIGHT
(Publication date December 2007)
With limited resources available, Amanda Davies has succeeded in piecing together her remarkable great-aunt’s story - a story of one woman’s independence and gritty determination. Clare Hedley-Peek worked on a hospital barge and in front line surgical ambulances in France during the First World War. After the war ended she joined an American-led team caring for mothers and babies in some of the worst war-torn areas. In the 1920s and 30s she ran the highly successful ‘sunshine clinic’ for children with bone disease – she and her partner Winifred Morris were part of the ex-pat community which included Lady Fortescue and Elisabeth Starr living on the Opio hillside renamed by the locals as ‘La Colline des Anglaises’. Forced to return to England during the Second World War, the couple applied the same magic combination of skill and love in the convalescent home they ran for wounded servicemen in the Surrey countryside.
From the Florence Nightingale Museum Trust comes the following:
Piecing together the story of a little-documented life, Amanda Davies has interviewed her great-aunt's surviving patients, researched a great number of archives - in both England and in France - and consulted a substantial bibliography. With the help of all this she has given us new insights into the training of nurses and midwives in the early years of the 20th Century and into some of the most deprived living conditions of Edwardian London.
Her descriptions of Clare Hedley-Peek's work on a hospital barge and in front line surgical ambulances reveal both the methods used for dealing quickly with the huge number of casualties and the vital role played by English nurses in the First World War - a role that was to continue after the war was ended when she joined an American-led team combating sickness and starvation in the devastated areas of northern France.
Set against the glamorous backdrop of the 1930s French Riviera, the story of the 'sunshine clinic' that she ran for local children is both informative and heart-warming. Forced to return to England during the Second World War, the couple were able to apply the same magic combination of skill and love in the convalescent home they ran for wounded servicemen in the Surrey countryside.